Top of the Morning: CAR Rebels Halt Advance; More Aid Workers Gunned Down in Pakistan; Ivory Coast New Years Eve Tragedy

Top stories from the global news aggregation service, DAWNS Digest.

CAR Rebels Halt and Agree to Peace Talks

The Central African Republic seems to have dodged a bullet. “The Seleka rebels had pushed to within striking distance of Bangui after a three-week onslaught and threatened to oust President Francois Bozize, accusing him of reneging on a previous peace deal and cracking down on dissidents. Their announcement on Wednesday only gave the leader a limited reprieve as the fighters told Reuters they might insist on his removal in the negotiations. ‘I have asked our forces not to move their positions starting today because we want to enter talks in (Gabon’s capital) Libreville for a political solution,’ said Seleka spokesman Eric Massi, speaking by telephone from Paris. ‘I am in discussion with our partners to come up with proposals to end the crisis, but one solution could be a political transition that excludes Bozize,’ he added.” (AlertNet

Seven Aid Workers Gunned Down in Pakistan

The relentless attack on aid workers in Pakistan continues. “ Gunmen on motorcycles sprayed a van carrying employees from a community center with bullets Tuesday, killing five female teachers and two aid workers, but sparing a child they took out of the vehicle before opening fire. The director of the group that the seven worked for says he suspects it may have been the latest in a series of attacks targeting anti-polio efforts in Pakistan. Some militants oppose the vaccination campaigns, accusing health workers of acting as spies for the U.S. and alleging the vaccine is intended to make Muslim children sterile.” (WaPo

Death Toll of Cote D’Ivoire New Years Eve Stampede Reaches 61

A tragedy in the Ivory Coast. “Witnesses said police had tried to control crowds around the Félix Houphouet Boigny Stadium following the celebrations, triggering a panic in which scores were trampled. ‘The estimate we can give right now is 49 people hospitalised…and 61 people dead,’ said chief of staff of Abidjan’s fire department Issa Sacko…Sanata Zoure, a market vendor injured in the incident, said new year’s revellers going home after watching the fireworks had been stopped by police near the stadium. ‘We were walking with our children and we came upon barricades, and people started falling into each other. We were trampled with our children,’ she said. Another witness said police arrived to control the crowd after a mob began chasing a pickpocket.” (Irish Times